No.14 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia has become the first Brazilian woman to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal in 55 years after defeating Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-5 in 3 hours and 51 minutes. The result was the longest tour-level match of 2023.
The only other Brazilian woman to make this stage of a major in the Open Era was the late Maria Bueno, whose 1968 season featured quarterfinal runs at Roland Garros and Wimbledon before her last Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open. Bueno's seven Grand Slam crowns all came before the Open Era, as did her career-best Roland Garros performance in 1964, when she fell to Margaret Court in the final.
"I have a picture with her in Wimbledon," Haddad Maia. "That was a lucky day. Also, I met her a few times in Sao Paulo. Unfortunately, she passed away, but we could talk a few times. She's a person who inspired us like for a lot of years. I think she's a very powerful woman, as well."
Heading into the French Open, Haddad Maia had never gone beyond the second round of a major.
Three weeks ago, Haddad Maia lost the previous longest tour-level match of 2023, in the Rome quarterfinals, falling 6-7(2), 7-6(6), 6-3 to Anhelina Kalinina in 3 hours and 41 minutes. She exceeded that by 10 minutes. Ten games went to at least one deuce, and 79 rallies went nine shots or more.
"I think I work very hard my body, as well, so I believe in myself when we have tough moments," Haddad Maia said. "I had a lot of matches more than three hours in my career also. Yeah, as long as the match goes, I think I'm stronger. So yeah, I think it's one of my qualities."
Not only was the match the longest of the season but was also the third-longest women's match at Roland Garros ever. The encounter tied the 10th longest match of the Open Era.
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Haddad Maia lost a 74-minute opening set from 5-2 up, failing to serve it out on three occasions. But she battled back to overturn a 3-0 double-break deficit in the second set, responding by grinding out seven straight games.
The 27-year-old also led 5-3 in the third set but was unable to take three match points on the Sorribes Tormo serve -- the third of which was saved with a remarkable fake-out pass by the Spaniard. But Haddad Maia held firm, and the powerful left-handed forehand that had been key to turning the match in her favor enabled her to convert her fourth match point. Haddad Maia finished with 65 winners and 65 unforced errors.
"When she was like 7-6, 3-0 advantage, I was looking to the clock and I said, Okay, we can play three hours," Haddad Maia said. "So let's find another way. I remember the 3-1, I did a few serve and volley, so I tried to change a little bit the game.
"Yeah, I saw the light in the end of the tunnel. That makes me feel stronger."
Photos: All of 2023's three-hour matches
Haddad Maia will next face No.7 seed Ons Jabeur, who also set a national milestone after racing past Bernarda Pera 6-3, 6-1 to become the first Tunisian quarterfinalist at Roland Garros.
The record length should perhaps not have been a surprise. Not only had Haddad Maia participated in the previous longest match of 2023, but Sorribes Tormo had already won two of the 10 longest matches of the Open Era.
The longest WTA matches of the Open Era
1. Vicki Nelson-Dunbar d. Jean Hepner 6-4, 7-6(11), 1984 Richmond R1 (6:31)
2. Francesca Schiavone d. Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 1-6, 16-14, 2011 Australian Open R4 (4:44)
3. Barbora Strycova d. Regina Kulikova 7-6(5), 6-7(01), 6-3, 2010 Australian Open R1 (4:19)
4. Virginie Buisson d. Noelle Van Lottum 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-2, 1995 Roland Garros R1 (4:07)
T5. Kerry Melville Reid d. Pam Teeguarden 7-6(7), 4-6, 16-14, 1972 Roland Garros R3 (3:55)
T5. Kristina Kucova d. Ekaterine Gorgodze 6-7(4), 7-6(7), 7-6(3), 2021 Gdynia QF (3:55)
7. Sara Sorribes Tormo d. Camila Osorio 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3, 2022 Cleveland R1 (3:54)
8. Lesia Tsurenko d. Kamilla Rakhimova 6-7(1), 6-4, 7-5, 2022 Budapest R2 (3:53)
9. Martina Trevisan d. Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-4, 2021 Indian Wells R1 (3:52)
T10. Sara Sorribes Tormo d. Camila Giorgi 7-6(4), 6-7(7), 7-5, 2021 Rome R1 (3:51)
T10. Beatriz Haddad Maia d. Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-5, 2023 Roland Garros R4 (3:51)